Confusion over deal for unemployed miners

bandiera Minnesota

On Friday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill funding extended unemployment benefits for laid off Iron Range miners attached to controversial unemployment tax cuts for businesses.

Though House DFLers opposed the pairing of those two issues, ultimately most Range DFLers argued for its passage so that unemployed miners without benefits could receive aid. Rep. Jason Metsa (DFL-Virginia) was the only Range delegation member to vote against the bill. He joined with a couple dozen of the most liberal metro-area DFL House members, which was an odd pairing to witness.

When this proposal emerged from committee, it was believed that a deal between House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Sen. Majority Leader Tom Bakk, who represents an Iron Range district, was done. However, today it appears that’s anything but the case. Bakk now says he opposes this bill.

It’s not clear where the Bakk/Daudt talks went wrong, but Daudt is apparently sticking to his guns on the unemployment tax rebates and Bakk remains opposed to putting them in the same bill.

The Senate has passed a “clean” bill to extend unemployment for miners. It’s not certain how those bills will reconcile with one another.

It would appear that this is a matter of negotiation leverage. The GOP would like the unemployment rebates to pass now so that they don’t have to negotiate for them later. The DFL sees any negotiation for the Range jobless dollars as inappropriate.

Lost in the shuffle is how this unemployment tax rebate is likely to pass either now or later. There is a surplus in the state’s unemployment fund, mostly due to the good economy in most (but not all) of Minnesota. But some argue that leaving that surplus alone is the best policy, since any downturn in the economy would instantly drain the fund.

But the way politics works, when that happens DFLers will negotiate for extended unemployment benefits for struggling families while Republicans argue for tax cuts to help businesses.

Do you see how the process repeats itself?


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